The wonderful She Cranes

Saturday July 20 2019

Determined. She Cranes’ Peace Proscovia during

Determined. She Cranes’ Peace Proscovia during a game with Scotland at the Commonwealth Games. FILE PHOTO 

By Moses Banturaki

Samoa, Scotland, and Trinidad & Tobago have already fallen. As I wrote this, South Africa was coming up in a battle between fifth and sixth in the world. After this, there could be a possible world cup semi-final, but certainly at least an eighth place finish - same as we achieved in 2015.

It’s the Netball World Cup people, and the She Cranes have been representing fully and ably. But the country is nowhere nearly as paralysed with excitement as it was a fortnight ago when the Cranes threatened to make a run at Afcon, before making a meal of the threat.

People, we are ranked second in Africa and sixth in the world by the International Netball Federation. We are in places that football can only dream of. Yet little gets noticed as the She Cranes go about their tasks with quiet efficiency.
The significance of what the She Cranes is doing is further amplified by the fact that they have no business punching at this weight at all. We got here thanks to the benevolence of those who closed funding gaps.

Still our talent shines through and the She Cranes are often the darlings of neutrals. I should add, perhaps more out of pity.
Shouldn’t this over-achieving underdog then, endear itself to a nation? Far from. Not many Ugandans think much of netball. The sport maybe as old as formal western education itself, but there isn’t much of a local competition to talk off and the sport must sometimes borrow its stars from other sports like basketball.

It seems to me this apathy extends to government too. But for netball to stand a chance in this football-mad and poor nation of ours, a change in fortunes will have to be triggered by a little intention from government. State House will have to adopt a new pet subject and order that the national budget now also directly allocates funds to netball, as it did for football with almost immediate results.

And while we are still at that, suggesting that the kind of gratitude that saw our footballers pick a collective $1m for reaching the last 16, also be extended to our netballers, wouldn’t be ungracious. I don’t care about popularity driven by numbers; no debate can convince me that footballers have a larger claim to reward than netballers. And if we are to get qualitative, the netballers are at their third straight world cup at which they just made the ‘quarter-finals’. So, as far as I am concerned the successes of Denis Onyango, Hassan Wasswa, Emmanuel Okwi, Peace Proscovia, Stella Oyela and Mary Nuba Cholock all serve the same image enhancing purpose and must be rewarded thus.


And, I choose to talk about all this now in a world of football that stares inwards, full of players with a heightened sense of entitlement and leaders who use social media to invite us into their murky private lives. I say look up to the She Cranes instead and be filled with wonder. @MBanturaki